Congratulations to Megi Mejdrechova, Denise Pezzuoli and Valeria Chiono

The winners of the RIS LEADERS competition 2022 have been selected!

Megi Mejdrechova, Denise Pezzuoli and Valeria Chiono were awarded the first, second and third prize with 10,000 EUR, 7,500 EUR and 5,000 EUR in prize money. Their co-competitors Paola Bonesu, Sofija Daceva and Soraya Gadit will receive two months of business mentoring for their participation in the finals.

A picture showing the six competitors of the RIS LEADERS competition

From left to right: Megi Mejdrechova, Denise Pezzuoli, Valeria Chiono, Soraya Gadit, Sofija Daceva and Paola Bonesu.

First Prize

Megi Mejdrechova won with the presentation of the motion imitating robot RoboTwin, which can be trained to mimic the movement that painters in industrial paint-shops perform when painting parts. When trained, the robots can do the painters job and thus reduce the time that the painter spends with repetitive movements in an unfavourable environment.

I’m happy I could present my work to the international audience, and I’m honoured by the award. It motivates me to keep working hard and I’m sure it motivates other girls and women to try out the world of tech. The RoboTwin team is again one step closer to our goal – saving humans from doing unhealthy routine manual jobs in the age of automation. Many thanks to EIT Manufacturing for supporting projects like ours.

Megi Mejdrechova

By addressing manufacturing operations that are difficult to automate, RoboTwin brings a key piece of the puzzle towards the re-industrialization of Europe.

Marie Hurtgen, Jury Member RIS LEADERS competition 2022

Second prize

Denise Pezzuoli convinced the jury with her presentation of innovative lubricant monitoring for predictive maintenance. A process that is usually carried out in a laboratory can be integrated into machinery such as wind turbines, thus combining several analyses. The benefits are multi-fold: Less downtime and lubricant change cost due to real-time monitoring plus longer lubricant lifecycle and less environmental impact.

It is an honour to have taken part in this event, and I am very proud of the result achieved. Thanks to EIT Manufacturing for the award and highlighting women’s contribution to innovation and entrepreneurship. I hope I can be an example for all the other women who want to revolutionise this sector!

Denise Pezzuoli

I was personally impressed by the step-change potential in terms of efficiency and speed of answer of SanChip monitoring solutions for the wind industry and felt that the award was well-deserved for Denise Pezzuoli as the co-founder and CTO of SanChip SRL.


Third prize

Valeria Chiono opened the nanoscale world with her presentation of polymer hybrid nanocarriers, POLHYRNATECH, for non-viral RNA therapy. The nanocarriers, developed by a multidisciplinary team, are safe, efficient and cell-specific delivery vehicles. The business model for POLHYRNATECH is already outlined until 2028 and will also include in vitro and in vivo validation.

This award represents a great recognition for the tremendous efforts my team and I are putting towards the translation of research outputs from the BIORECAR ERC project into efficient and cell-specific RNA delivery therapies. Thanks to this prestigious award from EIT Manufacturing, we hope to reach higher visibility, to establish new collaborations and to attract investors for supporting and/or expanding our product portfolio.

Valeria Chiono

Valeria has demonstrated excellent skills and expertise, which has enabled her to make a substantial contribution and play a key part in the development of the POLHYRNATECH.


Although the manufacturing industry is changing rapidly, moving away from physically demanding, often dirty tasks towards jobs that need brains and creativity, women often are not aware of the options they could have in industrial environments. Niki Kousi, who holds a PhD in mechanical engineering and is now Managing Director of the Athens hub of EIT Manufacturing, shared her experience that of the 170 students of mechanical engineering in her first year, only 15 were women.

Two women on stage with a man joining themremotelyvia screen

From left to right: Dr Niki Kousi, Director EIT Manufacturing South-East, moderator Karin Helmstaedt, Klaus Beetz, CEO EIT Manufacturing

Konstantinos Georgoulias pointed out that the RIS LEADERS competition draws attention to women who deserve to be in the spotlight, because they have made great achievements. In the traditionally male-dominated environment of manufacturing, they are role models – “and hopefully inspire more girls and women to take up a career in manufacturing.”

Everything in our lives comes out of a production process, so manufacturing touches all our lives every day. I can only encourage women to see this as an opportunity to shape our daily lives, employing their specific perspective and creativity in the manufacturing industry.

Klaus Beetz, CEO EIT Manufacturing


The RIS LEADERS competition supports women innovators with an impact on manufacturing and society specifically in so-called Regional Innovation Scheme eligible countries according to the European Commission’s Innovation Scoreboard. From a first round of written applications, 30 applicants are selected and receive pitch training. In a second round, they submit a video pitch and candidates are narrowed down to six. These six finalists pitched in the framework of the EIT Manufacturing Summit Days 2022 on 17 November.

Image showing three women

from left to right: Marta Molinero and Megi Witerna-Plaku from EIT Manufacturing, moderator Karin Helmstaedt


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